Q. Which supplements support healthy skin?
A. Vibrant, glowing skin is an outward expression of overall health—so you're right to consider nutrition in your overall skin equation. Eating a healthy diet also promotes healthy skin, so aim for lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, and minimize processed foods. To keep hydrated inside and out, drink plenty of water. Consume some of your liquids in the form of antioxidant-rich green tea—up to several cups per day—and you'll also gain protection against sun damage and skin cancer.
Supplements also can help nourish skin and offset any deficiencies. A good daily multivitamin/mineral will include B vitamins for good circulation to the skin, selenium to improve skin elasticity, and vitamin C for building healthy collagen. Essential fatty acids help lock in skin moisture; try supplementing daily with 1 to 3 grams of fish oil, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil, or about 270 mg of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is the active ingredient in both borage oil and evening primrose oil.
Also consider carotenoids, which counteract skin-damaging free radicals. If you start supplementing with 10 to 25 mg of mixed carotenoids two months before the start of summer, and continue daily through the summer, it's equivalent to wearing SPF 3 all season long.
And don't forget healthy skin lifestyle choices. Don't smoke. Wear sunscreen whenever you go out in the sun (and yes, daily errands count—it's not just for Hawaiian vacations). Wear a wide-brimmed hat, and avoid excessive sun exposure during peak sunlight hours (generally 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
[bio] This Q&A was written by Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH, author of the The Soy Sensation (McGraw-Hill, 2002) and The Green Tea Book (Avery, 1998).